It’s been a rough couple of weeks around here.
Not much hope for getting back to routine.
I had a cold, which the children unhappily shared, leading to no school for a week and few chores. The next week was not only full of appointments (at least one every day) but still included an under-the-weather teacher and a house in desperate need of being returned to order! Again, no school–and no hope for getting back to routine.
This week we have finally gotten back to it, with the accompanying moans, groans, and “I don’t feel like doing school” comments. There have been tears, and fusses, and children working on school work or chores during what’s normally free time.
More than once I’ve been tempted to send them off to play, or even just consider our school year finished until September!
God gives grace, and we’ve been here a time or two before, and (I think) I’ve finally learned what to do to get us through these “back to routine” times.
- Pray for grace, and then exercise it. Attitudes and whining make me crazy, but dealing with the children out of my crazy isn’t forming godliness in them (or me). So I pray for grace, remember that He has promised to give it, and then try hard to act with grace when the attitudes bubble over. This includes encouraging my bigger children to ask for grace themselves (i.e. to have their devotions!), and then following up to make sure they have.
- Don’t add anything new. It’s so tempting, when we’ve been off-schedule, to come back by changing the already-established routine. Bad idea! We need to go back to what we already know, and I need to spend my energy on follow-up, to make sure people are doing what they know to do, rather than implementing a new routine and training people on new responsibilities.
- Expect to spend most of my energy on follow-up. Somehow everyone “forgets” how to do everything if we are off routine for more than a couple of days. This week the eight-year-old (who has been cleaning bathrooms for at least two years) could not remember what was meant by “no trash on the floor” on the bathroom checklist! Seriously?
This is an obsessing-over-the-details kind of kid, so obviously there was something else going on. Some follow-up on my part made it clear that other children had made a mess, and the eight-year-old resented having to clean up after them, so he’d chosen not to do it. That’s a heart issue, not a knowledge issue, and it needed to be addressed…
Getting Back to Routine
I’ve been keeping these points in mind this week as we get back to routine. So far we’ve had one day of bad attitude from each of the big children, and I’ve needed to do some retraining with the little boys on doing jobs quickly without stopping to play. School work and responsibilities are taking longer than they should, but they are getting done. More importantly, the heart issues of not wanting to work and not wanting to serve are being dealt with as attitude issues, and—by God’s grace—I am able to (mostly) deal with things patiently but calmly.
It is by no means perfect. There is still plenty of grace needed, and some things that just aren’t going to get done this week (or maybe ever). I’m reaching out for grace and also looking for some outside help to carry us for a while. A teenager to watch the children for a bit or someone to do some of the cleaning can be a great blessing, and humbling ourselves to admit that we need that help is also a way of implementing the grace we’ve been given.
Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones about living in a houseful of young children, special needs, discipling hearts, and abundant grace! As a homeschool graduate, she has an especial burden to encourage mothers to know and enjoy their children. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.